MSI NX8800GTX Review and Mixed-Vendor SLI - Page 7 of 9
Review By Mike Chambers - January 23, 2007
QUAKE 4 GAMEPLAY PERFORMANCE
OpenGL performance was tested in Quake 4 by executing a gameplay walkthrough that begins as the player enters the air defense complex at the start of the game. The walkthrough takes about two minutes to complete and concludes when meeting up with the Badger Squad.
An MPEG-1 video clip of the complete walkthrough can be viewed using this link (~ 22 MB). A shorter clip, which contains the first 15 seconds of the walkthrough, can be viewed using this link (~3 MB).
Click Image to Enlarge - 2560x1600 - 16x CSAA
Most graphics engines in today's games are developed using Microsoft's Direct3D, but the upcoming Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is being developed by Splash Damage with OpenGL. Based on an extended Doom 3 rendering engine, the game will feature MegaTexture technology, which allows rendering of detailed outdoor scenes.
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
Click Image to Enlarge - 2048x1536
Quake 4 testing got off to a rough start as I spent a few days determining why SLI was not functioning under OpenGL. Based on what I was experiencing, the problem appeared to be related to changing 3D settings in the new driver control panel. When running benchmarks that make use of antialiasing, I like to keep the control panel window open as it allows me to quickly apply a change to the antialiasing mode (application-controlled, enhance the application settings, etc.) or setting (2x, 4x, 8x, etc.). What I eventually discovered is that even with SLI enabled, keeping the control panel window open resulted in only one of the GPUs being used under OpenGL. This did not affect Direct3D-based games.
Quake 4 Settings
Note that the frame rate in Quake 4 is capped at 60 fps during gameplay.
SINGLE GPU PERFORMANCE
The following results are from the MSI NX8800GTX running in a single GPU configuration at three different resolutions and levels of antialiasing. A key benefit of a powerful GPU is its ability to offer multiple playable settings, which is useful in fine-tuning performance to match the highest resolutions of your monitor.
Gameplay Performance - Single GPU
Graphs of the frame rate per second for each setting are provided below. Optimal performance is achieved when individual frame rates are near the average frame rate. Performance becomes sub-optimal when individual frame rates begin to widely deviate from the average frame rate. In many cases, deviations are less noticeable if the individual fame rates equal or exceed 30 fps.
Frame Rate per Second - Single GPU
MULTI-VENDOR SLI PERFORMANCE
Although SLI can provide a significant boost in performance, it becomes even more valuable when it delivers playable frame rates at higher resolutions and levels of antialiasing.
Gameplay Performance - Mixed Vendor SLI
Frame Rate per Second - SLI
SINGLE VS. DUAL-CORE PERFORMANCE
In their 97.92 ForceWare driver release notes, NVIDIA mentions that random pauses can occur during gameplay. Although I did not encounter pauses during testing, the minimum frame rate was always lower when dual-core optimizations were enabled.